Tour of the Unknown Coast – 5/10/08

| May 14, 2008 5:58 am

by John Pugliese

On Friday, May 9th I hitched a ride with a non-member colleague up to Humboldt County for “California’s Toughest Century” ( Since we didn’t leave until after 5pm, and stopped for dinner, we showed up to the hotel at 12:30 am. To make matters worse, my buddy was going to do the 100k ride and felt no sense of urgency on the trip or on the day of the ride and we showed up to find no more breakfast, no route sheets and no other 100 milers.

Frustrated and about to resign to do the 100k, a worker suggested that everything was well marked (I’ve heard that before) and that I may be able to catch them. I took this as a challenge and decided to go for it, even if I pulled in late. The first 30 miles followed much of the 100k route, so I was with others through the incredible redwood forests of the Avenue of the Giants.

By the third stop, I had left the 100k group and caught up to many 100 milers. My sense of frustration finally subsided.

There was some minor climbing and figured this wasn’t that bad. Then I stopped to take some photos at the coast when another rider had stopped.

At 77.6 miles he looked up on his GPS and told me that we had not done HALF of the climbing yet.

He pointed ahead and mentioned ‘the Wall’, which I had previously dismissed because there seems to be many unwarranted ‘walls’. So he told me that it was over 18% grade for half a mile, and then turn to provide the ‘Never Ending Hill’, which was less of a slope but incessant.

The picture doesn’t illuminate the severity, but it looked like it could be difficult in a car, or would have fit into a European hillside or the Great Wall of China. As I got closer, I saw a few riders zigzagging their way up and decided to pass the stop at the base for fear of not starting up again. I stayed straight and was able to pass yet more riders. The next photo was taken during my brief stop at the top, but doesn’t fully capture the grade.

Ninety degrees to the left of the above picture was the start of the ‘Never ending hill’, with more immediate climbing. I passed more riders who had to stop or walk, but got passed by several others who passed by in SAG vehicles. It didn’t seem that I was completing any distance due to all the climbing and had to turn of the odometer. A group had stopped around mile 90 and there were fire trucks for a car (no rider involvement) but I just kept going.

It was a big sense of accomplishment to cross the finish line and hear the ring of cow bells and receive my finisher patch. I wasn’t out to set any speed records and with the breaks I took, I probably doubled Lance Armstrong’s time from the 90’s, but it was an awesome ride. I couldn’t have done it as easily one year ago and I credit ACTC for providing the Billy Goat climbs of the area which provided ample training.

2 Responses to “Tour of the Unknown Coast – 5/10/08”

noni4two wrote a comment on May 14, 2008

Great pictures! Way to go.

Julia wrote a comment on May 15, 2008

Looks like an awesome ride! I could never do it. Very cool.

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